The Tremendous Tendie Tour
May 21, 2019
Summer is almost here and one of the most iconic ways students here love to hang out is over some cheap, quick and tasty chicken tenders. But which local spot has the best tendies?
We decided to finally determine this in every imaginable category. From the breading, chicken, sauces, fries/signature sides and even speediness/customer service. We decided to find the best all around chicken tender spot for high school students.
The journey consists of seven restaurants: Culver’s, Arby’s, Krispy Krunchy Chicken, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Raising Cane’s and Popeye’s to determine which tenders will reign supreme. It all began with the home of the Butter-Burger, Culver’s.
Location: There are ten Arby’s within a 20-minute drive from HHS with the nearest one being just seven minutes away.
Arby’s was a dark cloud on the bright horizon of our tender tour. We got the three-piece chicken tender with curly fries, a medium-sized drink and Brooks was allowed to ring the bell.
Eating Arby’s tenders was a very negative experience. The Arby’s sauce was very poor tasting and overall took away from the tenders. Because of that, I ended up eating the tenders without sauce.
The tenders themselves were a pretty good size. The breading was thick which means less chicken. A negative for me. The breading was also heavily seasoned which was a very good thing because I was eating them dry.
There was a very expected selection of beverages, nothing that stands out. The fries are battered so much and are so crispy that you wouldn’t even know it’s a potato. One plus is that they are curly fries although many are just broken fragments of curly fries.
Arby’s was not terrible but offered nothing special. These tenders were probably worse than the tenders you make in the oven at home. Stick to roast beef, Arby’s.
Location: 8 minutes from HHS on 7th Avenue N in Golden Valley.
Being a place more known for burgers and custard, Culver’s surprised with an interesting chicken tender package. We each ordered the two-piece snack-pack which consisted of two chicken tenders, small fry and a small fountain drink for $5.80.
Each tender wasn’t very big at all but they most certainly packed a punch with each bite leaving me almost full after the smallest order. Overall, it was an impressive tender, but there were negatives. The breading was good but it didn’t blend well with the chicken, overpowering its taste which caused both aspects to dip in scoring.
What really stuck out about Culver’s, is that each tender was served at a perfect and ideal temperature, tasting hot and fresh but not too hot by any means. This was Culver’s best scoring category getting a 3/3 in temperature.
In terms of sauces, Culver’s was nothing special. It was lacking a signature sauce and their own brand of sauces such as their own culver’s sweet and sour sauce didn’t fit the taste of a chicken tender. What helped it’s scoring was it’s very own Barbeque sauce and it did have a big variety of sauces. It gets a 1/3 in the sauce department.
What draws people into Culver’s, is what comes with its snack-pack. The two tenders come with hot and fresh crinkle-cut fries that would rank in the upper tier of fast-food fries, as well as a fountain drink that gives a variety of options including their very own brand of root beer that was delicious coming from a non-root beer fan.
Location: At Knollwood. Hwy 7 and Texas Rd, 8 minutes from HHS
Chick-Fil-A, known for some of the best fast food chicken, we had some high expectations going in and they did not disappoint. Highly known for great chicken every day of the week except Sunday.
For $7.95, we got three tenders, medium waffle fries, and a drink. I thought the pricing was relatively fair considering the size of the fries.
Without any surprise to anybody, Chick-Fil-A, as always, excelled in customer service and speed. We received our meal less than two minutes after paying and the manager made it his mission to check in with us confirming we were satisfied with our food.
What was surprising is that Chick-Fil-A was pretty good at everything but it’s chicken tenders. The breading was super thin which made its unnoticeable taste irrelevant to the taste of tender.
Another downgrade to their tenders is the surface grease was almost overwhelming to the taste of the tender, leaving our hands drenched in grease after just the first tender. Unfortunately, the chicken was just slightly above average and couldn’t outweigh the poor breading.
Lastly, Chick-Fil-A is held down by its location, being directly next to prestigious fast-food places such as Blaze Pizza, Noodles and Company, Leeann Chin, and Five Guys. When I am in the area, Chick-Fil-A can be easily overshadowed by the others which can cause me to end up going somewhere else.
Krispy Krunchy Chicken
Location: In a Mobil Gas station on the corner of Hopkins Crossroads & 7, a six-minute drive from HHS.
Krispy Krunchy is the most shocking location on our list due to it being tucked away into a gas station. When I first tried these Cajun tenders I was amazed at how a gas station could have such good chicken. And that was even before we were given a free biscuit.
For $5.99 we got 4 tenders and a biscuit. It seemed a little strange to me that it doesn’t come with a beverage although many beverages are readily available. And don’t even get me started on the biscuits, they’re soft, buttery, and sweet from the honey. While the biscuits are very delicious, they also make your mouth very dry which is a problem if you don’t have a beverage.
The first great thing about Krispy Krunchy is the speed. The chicken is readily available and right near the cash register so it takes very little time for you to get your chicken. While Krispy Krunchy has good speed, the temperature of the chicken is lacking.
The Cajun tenders impressed me a lot. The breading was crispy and seasoned well, the chicken itself was moist and tender.
Location: Five McDonald’s within 10 minutes of HHS.
McDonald’s added chicken tenders to their menu in late 2017. But from a place with McNuggets already being a popular chicken dunker, they would have to live up to high standards. The Mickey D’s chicken tender experience was nothing short of expectations.
Nothing sets McDonald’s chicken tenders apart from its competitors but does everything really well. We each ordered a 4 tender meal which comes with medium fries and any sized drink. It costed $7.19.
We received our tenders quickly and we noticed right away that we each had more than 4 tenders, score! Something we also noticed pretty quickly was that the tenders were just slightly above room temperature which was unpleasant.
Everything the tenders come with complimented them very nicely. For some reason, the drinks at McDonald’s are exceptionally refreshing and that extends to the water. And McDonald’s french fries are at the top when it comes to fast food french fries. If you don’t like the signature sauce that accompanies the tenders then there’s plenty of other sauces to dip your tenders in.
The Buttermilk Crispy Tenders themselves, while new, look like they will have a spot on the menu for a long time. The outside is crispy, but pretty standard tasting. The inside is juicy and flavorful. One major plus side of the tenders is you can tell you’re actually eating chicken, unlike the McNuggets.
Location: 13 minutes from HHS on Glen lane in Eden Prairie
The Louisiana fast chicken is only getting bigger ranking 3rd in sales amongst chicken restaurants selling $2.4 billion dollars worth of chicken.
But, what really matters is where do these noble tenders rank competing with the cream of the crop in fast-food chicken tenders?
The iconic combo came with three fairly large tenders, one side, a biscuit and drink for $9.34. The large portions left us full but it was pretty pricey for a fast-food place.
The chicken had two options, mild or spicy. Each tender was very warm and each bite was exploding with flavor. The spicy tenders gave an interesting kick to it but weren’t too hot by any means.
The sauce had a wide variety with options such as blackened ranch, to a traditional cocktail sauce. Each giving the chicken a unique flavor and did a good job complimenting the chicken rather than overpowering.
In terms of service, the cashier was a super nice guy interacting with lots of different customers. Unfortunately, they were out of tenders at the time of us ordering which caused us to wait a bit to receive them and it was probably the slowest out of all of the places we visited.
Popeye’s excelled in the sides category, they have multiple options to choose from such as cajun fries, baked beans and rice, and mac & cheese. The mac and cheese was nothing insane, but still a very cool and unique side to have.
The absolute best thing from Popeye’s is their biscuits that come with every combo meal. Each bite was extremely flavorful but make sure you have some sort of drink next to you because you’ll need it to wash it all down!
All in all, Popeye’s was a great experience and great meal. I‘m not sure if it’s worth the 15-20 minute drive but if your in the Eden Prairie, downtown or in the crystal area, you won’t regret stopping by.
Location: 21 minutes from HHS on Maple Grove Pkwy N, in maple grove
You can get one thing at Raising Cane’s. Chicken tenders and three sides, fries, coleslaw, and Texas Toast. If a place only has one thing to offer it better be good, and no question they’re the best.
The 3 finger combo comes with 3 tenders, fries, coleslaw, Texas Toast, and a 22oz. drink, it costs $6.99. This place takes orders pretty fast considering how many people want their Cane’s at lunchtime on a Saturday. What was even more surprising was how quickly they called my name when my combo was ready.
With the tenders having such a high expectation they started off strong. The tenders were hot, almost too hot, they were steaming and looked perfect next to the famous Cane’s sauce. When I picked up the tender I was a little shocked with the amount of grease on the surface of the tenders. One bite of these tenders though and I had no more worries about the grease.
The breading was thin but crispy and flaky. The chicken was juicy and noticeably flavorful. The Cane’s sauce is delicious and mysterious. (What makes it so good?) The pink stuff brings everything together whether you’re dunking chicken or fries.
Cane’s doesn’t just rock the chicken tender, the sweet tea, Texas Toast, and fries are pretty delicious as well. The coleslaw, not so much. The sweet tea is refreshing and not too sweet and when it’s paired with those little ice nuggets, perfect for people who chew their ice cubes, Cane’s sweet tea is unbeatable. Each meal comes with a thick piece of Texas Toast. The Texas Toast is soft, buttered, and a little garlic tasting. Another side is the crinkle cut fries. The fries get crispy on the outside while still tasting like potato on the inside. They also taste great in the sauce but I’m guessing most things would. I wouldn’t even bother with the coleslaw but that just because I am not a fan of coleslaw.
If you want good chicken tenders, go here. It is worth the drive.
All in all, there are lots of great tender spots in MN and there are many locations you can’t go wrong with. But with little surprise to most, Raising Cane’s remains superior, as the best place to get chicken tenders.